Posted on February 05, 2015

Throw-Back-Thursday! Beware of Making Comparison Mistakes With Halogen Lamps

We thought we would post our first TBT this week and take a look at what we were talking about back in 2011. We won't rewrite the blog (because that would defeat the TBT), but just to give you an idea of the progress...our 21-watt PAR38 now is 1600 lumens; with a 28-watt version available that is 2400 lumens!

We recently evaluated the Solais LED LR38 (21W, 1000 lumens) against a PAR38 halogen (90W, 130V, 1310 lumens) for a high-profile client. The client had some initial concerns due to the apparent large difference in lumens between the two products, but this was simply because they did not have a proper understanding of the importance behind the 130V rating. After educating the client about how the halogen lamp decreases to 79W and 1000 lumens at 120V (standard line voltage), we realized how common of a mistake this must be in the industry.  

Why is this important?

Many commercial applications use 130V halogen lamps and customers assume there is no equivalent LED upgrade because of the high lumen value published for the halogen lamp. Looking deeper into the spec sheets/product literature, one can find the manufacturer's notes on what the lamp specs will actually be when powered by standard line voltage. 

Why does this happen? 

There is a very basic electrical formula that states: wattage (W) = voltage (V) x current (I). Halogen lamps heat a metal filament to produce light. In a metal, voltage and current have a linear relationship. This means that when a lamp is designed to 130V but is put onto a 120V system, the wattage will decrease in a linear function (To be completely accurate you need to account for the resistance of the filament, which is a function of its temperature to the 4th power, but this is not necessary for arguments sake). As the wattage decreases, so does the lumen output. 

So why would they design halogen lamps to 130V? 

AC voltage is quite unpredictable and can vary depending on geographic location. In a typical 120VAC line, surges or spikes in voltage can occur and a lamp made to 130V will help protect against failures. Additionally, certain regions of the country actually have higher standard voltages (up to 130V). Designing lamps to be 130V is also a common technique used because when a 130V halogen lamp is used on a 120V system, it increases the life of the lamp (In our specific case, the life was increased from 2500 to 5000 hours). Like most things however, there are trade-offs and in this case the lower voltage also reduces the efficacy of the lamp. 

What does this really mean?

As a customer there are two key points you must understand for this situation: 

1 – If you use 130V PAR lamps, remember that their actual lumen output on standard line voltage is significantly lower than the published specs. This means that high quality, high output LED lamps like those provided by Solais ARE and equivalent upgrade.

2 – When evaluating your energy savings by switching to an LED lamp, especially when it is provided to you by the LED manufacturer, make sure they to account for the correct wattage of the halogen lamps. If 90W (@130V) is used instead of 79W (@120V), more savings will be shown then you will actually receive.

About Solais Lighting Group: Solais + EnergyLite design and manufacture the lighting industry's highest-performing LED lamps and fixtures. With superior lumen output, center-beam candlepower, and overall aesthetics and performance, Solais Lighting Group’s LED products enhance the retail, supermarket, commercial, museum, hospitality and utility environments of the world's leading brands. Solais Lighting Group relentlessly pushes the innovation envelope to create products that replace traditional lighting technologies with zero compromise to aesthetics and performance. To learn more about Solais Lighting Group, visit us in person in Frisco, Texas, or online at

Two of our new product lines are now available to order!
The XC3, XC5 and XC7 modular cylinders come in a variety of finishes and mounting options. The WW asymmetrical track wall wash fixtures come in two sizes. Yoke mount versions are coming soon!